OAK HARBOR, Wash. – An Oak Harbor High School program is teaching young adults with special needs life skills.
At 20 years old, Mikhaila Reed has already found her dream job. She is a server at Oak Harbor's Summer Hill Assisted Living, and she knows every one of the residents by name.
Reed also has autism, but that doesn't hold her back.
"I am comfortable here," she said. "I'm not nervous."
Reed is part of the Transition Program at Oak Harbor High School. The program pairs special needs students with job opportunities and teaches them life skills.
Reed volunteered at Summer Hill for two years. Now, she's getting paid.
"I like to go to stores and buy all the things, and I save my money, too," Reed said.
Twenty-one students participate in the program. They learn to cook, grocery shop, manage money and much more. The program partners with businesses around town to get students paying jobs.
"What it does for them is help them launch their dreams," said program coordinator Diane Fesler-Macaluso.
Under Fesler-Macaluso’s direction, every single student who has passed through the program for the past three years has either gotten a job or gone on to college.
Reed is now training a new student in the Summer Hill dining room, bringing another special needs student one step closer to a normal life.
"I'm impressed with myself and I'm very proud that I'm working so hard," she said.